Massive Attack – 100th Window (2003): Review

massive

Produced by Robert Del Naja and Neil Davidge
Label – Virgin

No one can underestimate the importance of Massive Attack’s early works in influencing future acts to develop languid dance rhythms with atmospheric synthetic sounds to formulate what would become the successful trip hop phenomenon. The three previous long players “Blue Lines”, “Protection” and “Mezzanine” benchmarked the stately, cinematically engaging sounds that would secure interest for the Bristol collective into the new millennium and probably beyond. Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned. By 2003, the only full time member was Robert Del Naja (3D), and the obvious weight of expectation on him leaves a gaping hole in creativity that replaces the traditional break beats, funk elements and soulful vocal embellishments with electronic blips and cold programmed rhythms which leads to a yearning for the missing contributors, particularly “Mushroom” Vowles and “Daddy G” Marshall.

delnaja

The calculated arrangements that were prevalent on “Mezzanine” are still here, but they seem forced through a filter that extracts much of the observational humanistic traits for colourless, single paced trawls through the mind of a machine. Sinead O’Connor brings restrained vocals to three songs, which are undoubtedly the most memorable moments from “100th Window”. “What Your Soul Sings” resembles “Teardrop” from “Mezzanine” and has genuinely ethereal warmth, and the eerily foreboding single “Special Cases”. Whether there’s any value in applying social protestations on a chill out album is questionable, but O’Connor’s sermonizing on “A Prayer For England” is at least listenable. The rest frankly just seems to meander along, with little change in rhythm patterns and even worse, there’s limited musicality or originality. Decent trip hop albums enforce the listener to don the headphones and immerse in the waves of music. By contrast, this album is something you leave on in another room while you’re washing the pots. It’s not a bad album; it’s just so thoroughly listless.

With no discernible direction “100th Window” is a record that requires neither emotion nor reaction.

5/10

Track Rating
1 – Future Proof 6
2 – What Your Soul Sings 7
3 – Everywhen 5
4 – Special Cases 7
5 – Butterfly Caught 6
6 – A Prayer For England 6
7 – Small Time Shot Away 5
8 – Name Taken 4
9 – Antistar (includes hidden track LP4) 3

Special Cases

Butterfly Caught

Small Time Shot Away

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